Report No 55

Gender and Development: Concepts and Definitions
Prepared for the Department for International Development (DFID) for its gender mainstreaming intranet resource

by Hazel Reeves and Sally Baden
February 2000

BRIDGE (development - gender) Institute of Development Studies University of Sussex Brighton BN1 9RE, UK Tel: +44 (0) 1273 606261 Fax: +44 (0) 1273 621202 Email: Website:

© Institute of Development Studies ISBN 1 85864 381 3

1. Introduction ........................................................................................................... 1 2. Quick Definitions ................................................................................................... 2 3. Detailed Explanations and Further Reading ....................................................... 4 Culture ..................................................................................................................... 4 Gender Analysis ...................................................................................................... 6 Gender Discrimination ............................................................................................. 7 Gender Division of Labour....................................................................................... 8 Gender Equality and Equity................................................................................... 10 Gender Mainstreaming .......................................................................................... 12 Gender Needs ....................................................................................................... 14 Gender Planning.................................................................................................... 16 Gender Relations................................................................................................... 18 Gender Training..................................................................................................... 20 Gender Violence.................................................................................................... 22 Intra-household Resource Distribution .................................................................. 24 National Machineries for Women .......................................................................... 26 Patriarchy .............................................................................................................. 28 Sex and Gender .................................................................................................... 30 Social Justice ........................................................................................................ 31 WID/GAD............................................................................................................... 33 Women's Empowerment........................................................................................ 35 Women's Human Rights ........................................................................................ 37

1. Introduction
Selected concepts central to Gender and Development thinking are explained here. These are intended to help you explore some of the key ideas and issues in Gender and Development and their implications for policy and practice. The succinct explanations here are neither comprehensive nor definitive. Readers are advised to consult the recommended readings for more detailed discussions.


2. Quick Definitions
Culture The distinctive patterns of ideas, beliefs, and norms which characterise the way of life and relations of a society or group within a society The systematic gathering and examination of information on gender differences and social relations in order to identify, understand and redress inequities based on gender The systematic, unfavourable treatment of individuals on the basis of their gender, which denies them rights, opportunities or resources The socially determined ideas and practices which define what roles and activities are deemed appropriate for women and men Gender equality denotes women having the same opportunities in life as men, including the ability to participate in the public sphere Gender equity denotes the equivalence in life outcomes for women and men, recognising their different needs and interests, and requiring a redistribution of power and resources Gender Mainstreaming An organisational strategy to bring a gender perspective to all aspects of an institution’s policy and activities, through building gender capacity and accountability Shared and prioritised needs identified by women that arise from their common experiences as a gender The technical and political processes and procedures necessary to implement gender-sensitive policy Hierarchical relations of power between women and men that tend to disadvantage women A facilitated process of developing awareness and capacity on gender issues, to bring about personal or organisational change for gender equality Any act or threat by men or male-dominated institutions, that inflicts physical, sexual, or psychological harm on a woman or girl because of their gender

Gender Analysis

Gender Discrimination

Gender Division of Labour

Gender Equality and Equity

Gender Needs Gender Planning

Gender Relations

Gender Training

Gender Violence


are accessed and controlled by its members Agencies with a mandate for the advancement of women established within and by governments for integrating gender concerns in development policy and planning Systemic societal structures that institutionalise male physical. through individuals or groups developing awareness of women’s subordination and building their capacity to challenge it The recognition that women’s rights are human rights and that women experience injustices solely because of their gender Women’s Human Rights 3 .Intra-household Resource Distribution National Machineries for Women The dynamics of how different resources that are generated within or which come into the household. social and economic power over women Sex refers to the biological characteristics that categorise someone as either female or male. and emphasises the need to integrate them into the development process In contrast. the GAD (or Gender and Development) approach focuses on the socially constructed basis of differences between men and women and emphasises the need to challenge existing gender roles and relations Patriarchy Sex and Gender Social Justice WID/GAD Women’s Empowerment A ‘bottom-up’ process of transforming gender power relations. through processes of social transformation The WID (or Women in Development) approach calls for greater attention to women in development policy and practice. whereas gender refers to the socially determined ideas and practices of what it is to be female or male Fairness and equity as a right for all in the outcomes of development.

at the expense of other perhaps more immediate concerns. and people cry cultural imperialism!” (White. and therefore tend to reinforce male power. OECD. Despite these assumptions. Many within the international development community also remain resistant to goals of gender equity because they perceive these as interfering with the most intimate domain in society. Paris “We talk about poverty across societies. For example. These gender ideologies often reinforce male power and the idea of women’s inferiority. 1998. and female genital mutilation. or as a form of resistance. Globalisation also has implications for the diffusion of culture. Interventions to challenge power imbalances proposed by local women’s organisations or NGOs are often denied legitimacy. there are real issues of concern for local women’s groups when externally initiated interventions are tainted by colonial attitudes. beliefs. Some women have themselves defended ideas of ‘culture’ and ‘tradition’ in order to hold on to what little power they have. Detailed Explanations and Further Reading CULTURE The distinctive patterns of ideas. and assumed to be natural and unchangeable. political and social power. giving overwhelming priority to such issues as veiling. in DAC Source Book on Concepts and Approaches linked to Gender Equality. More recently. or where an international agency is involved. certain western feminists have also colluded in this notion. denounced as ‘western’ interference or ‘cultural imperialism’. 1993:9) See also: FAQ ‘What right have we to interfere in other people’s cultures?’ Further reading 4 .and gain support for these from western feminists. Culture is sometimes interpreted narrowly as ‘custom’ or ‘tradition’. Male colonisers. In the past. and norms which characterise the way of life and relations of a society or group within a society Culturally determined gender ideologies define rights and responsibilities and what is ‘appropriate’ behaviour for women and men. women were often seen as ‘victims’ that needed protection. before the revolution in Iran. Dominant cultures reinforce the position of those with economic. Equality and Culture’. particularly of western culture. arranged marriages. The defence of ‘culture’ and ‘tradition’ is often used by men to justify practices that constrain women’s life chances and outcomes. Nevertheless. perpetuated this paternalistic idea to justify their colonial domination. Development Assistance Committee (DAC). and no-one raises any problems. We talk about gender subordination across societies. and participation in decision-making. women took up the veil to show resistance to the processes of westernisation that the country was experiencing. culture is fluid and enduring.which may imply redistributive action or tackling poverty . ‘Gender. They want to set their own agendas . Southern feminists challenge this idea of women as ‘victims’.3. They also influence access to and control over resources. however well intentioned.

Cambridge. 1995. Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism. 1994.Mohanty. C. Oxfam. (1991) ‘Under Western Eyes. J. No. Culture and Development: A Study of Human Capabilities. Vol. Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourse’ in Mohanty. and Glover. A Passion for Difference. Women. Polity Oxfam. 1995. Clarendon Press. H. Indiana University Press Moore. M..1. Oxford 5 . February. Bloomington. Oxfam Journal..3. Oxford Nussbaum.’ Gender and Development. ‘Women and Culture. Russo. 1991.). A. and L. Torres (eds. C..

. the Longwe Method/Women’s Empowerment Framework. J. D. UNDP. S. 1991. Gender planning. Graduate School of Sciences. ‘Gender Analysis Framework’ in Overholt et al. race and ethnicity. and state institutions and so involves collecting data at all these levels. 1998. Cloud. B. ‘Integrating gender issues into public expenditure: six tools’. including the Gender Roles or Harvard framework. ‘Gender analysis: alternative paradigms’. The aim is to understand the dynamics of gender relations in different institutional contexts and thereby to identify women’s bargaining position and formulate strategies to improve this. Anderson. and Evers.. tools have also been developed to apply gender analysis to the analysis of markets. and Levy’s Web of Institutionalisation. D. and Razavi. the Social Relations approach seeks to expose the gendered power relations that perpetuate inequities. divided by other aspects of social differentiation such as class. Other gender analysis frameworks include: the Moser/DPU Framework. GENECON Unit. 1998. and of public expenditure and budgets. 1997. There are a number of different approaches to gender analysis. GENECON. This analysis moves beyond the household to include the community. understand and redress inequities based on gender. The Gender Roles framework focuses on describing women’s and men’s roles and their relative access to and control over resources. Manchester University Miller. University of Manchester Elson. Connecticut See also: Gender training.. It has proved challenging to adopt this approach in operational work.. It uncovers differences between women. Recently..GENDER ANALYSIS ‘Gender analysis. mimeo. M. Gender Analysis in Development Planning: A Case Book. No.. The analysis aims to anticipate the impacts of projects on both productive and reproductive roles. C. as the unit of analysis and tends to assume that women are a homogeneous category. In contrast. Kumarian Press.... The methodology and components of gender analysis are shaped by how gender issues are understood in the institution concerned. once confined to the margins of development theory. WID/GAD Further reading 6 . rather than the breadth of institutions. 1998: 4) The systematic gathering and examination of information on gender differences and social relations in order to identify. mimeo. K. ‘Sector programme support: A Gender Aware Analysis’. 1991. has over the last ten years penetrated both the thinking and the operations of international development institutions’ (Miller and Razavi. C. Gender in Development Monograph Series. It takes the household. Elson. market.6. Gender analysis is a valuable descriptive and diagnostic tool for development planners and crucial to gender mainstreaming efforts. and Austin. of macro-economic and sectoral policies. New York Overholt. and Social Relations Analysis.

and not all poor people are women. and Sabot. Even where constitutional or (adapted from Oxfam. (eds. • globally women make up just over 10% of The law is assumed to be gender-neutral when in fact it may representatives in perpetuate gender discrimination. in terms of access to public services. Washington Seager. IBRD/World Bank. and ‘Facts and religious or other customary laws that privilege men may take Figures’ section) precedence in practice. Health. sometimes leading to higher malnutrition and mortality indicators Gender discrimination: for women. N.). including capacity-building to overcome barriers to claiming rights. 1995:181. women and girls can face discrimination in the sharing out of household resources including food. which denies them rights. However.. unfavourable treatment of individuals on the basis of their gender. R. can be a potent tool for challenging discrimination. being a product of a culture national government with oppressive gender ideologies. occupational exclusion or • 2 out of 3 of the segregation into low skill and low paid work limit women’s world’s illiterate earnings in comparison to those of men of similar education people are women levels. Women activists regard this convention as a key tool to support their struggle against discrimination in all spheres. 1991. Within the household. the law. i. Birdsall.e. In the hours labour market. unequal pay. Unfair Advantage: Labour Market Discrimination in Developing Countries.. the household. such as men’s earnings schooling and health care. women are treated unequally and less value is placed on their lives because of their gender. if combined with other strategies. J. gender discrimination can lead to son preference. The State of Women in the World Atlas: Women’s status around the Globe: Work. market. See also: Women’s human rights. Penguin. Social justice. when reformed with women’s input. London 7 . opportunities or resources Across the world. (See Intra-household Resource Distribution). 1996:20) The systematic. 1997. At its • women work 67% of most extreme. pushing governments towards attaining these internationally recognised minimum standards. national legal provisions uphold gender equality principles. Women’s lack of representation and voice in decision • women’s earnings making bodies in the community and the state perpetuates range from 50-85% of discrimination. including the right to be free from discrimination. or discriminatory laws. Intra-household resource allocation Further reading The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979 brought into international focus the rights of women as human rights. community. Education and Personal Freedom.. but all women suffer from discrimination” (Kabeer. Women’s differential access to power and control of resources is central to this discrimination in all institutional spheres. and state.GENDER DISCRIMINATION “Not all women are poor. the world’s working expressed in sex selective abortion or female feticide.

these ideas and practices are socially constructed. as well as by separation. as is sometimes assumed. as well as home based production. and household management tasks. caring for other family members. although women’s overall participation rates are rising. It cannot absorb all the shocks of adjustment. The formal documentation and recognition of women’s roles and the related time burden is crucial for gender-sensitive development interventions. International definitions of economic activity have also been broadened to include subsistence farming. policy makers expect that women can take on roles previously fulfilled by public services. Historically. For example. This results in context-specific patterns of who does what by gender and how this is valued. it is often assumed by mainstream development policies to be infinitely elastic. It cannot stretch to cover all the deficiencies left by reduced public expenditure. For example. This has led to misconceived development projects. They are characterised by co-operation in joint activities. such as care for the sick and elderly. women’s productive roles have been ignored or under-valued. usually earning less. women have been successfully trained and employed as water technicians or builders in communities where these were jobs previously a male 8 . Recently.’ (Elson. and market production. Often. they tend to be confined to a relatively narrow range of occupations or concentrated in lower grades than men.GENDER DIVISION OF LABOUR The socially determined ideas and practices which define what roles and activities are deemed appropriate for women and men Whilst the gender division of labour tends to be seen as natural and immutable. for example the services of extension agents and agricultural inputs being targeted at men. in pursuit of gender equity. In the labour market. 1995:15) However. Women are generally expected to fulfil the reproductive role of bearing and raising children. Because women’s labour is undervalued. particularly in the informal sector and subsistence agriculture. food processing and homeworking ‘in anticipation of profit’. ‘Women’s labour is not infinitely elastic. the accepted norm regarding gender divisions varies from the actual practice. international organisations have begun to measure all forms of economic activity by gender. Men tend to be more associated with productive roles. particularly paid work. roles typically designated as female are almost invariably less valued than those designated as male. See also: Gender needs. in fact. Time budget surveys are also being implemented in some places to measure women’s input into reproductive work. Gender divisions of labour are not necessarily rigidly defined in terms of men’s and women’s roles. when cutbacks are made. Gender analysis. Women’s empowerment Gender and development policies and programmes can challenge and change women’s socially prescribed roles.

(eds. programmes aiming to increase women’s participation in spheres beyond the household must ensure that they are properly remunerated.20. or public provision.). A. Women's Role in Economic Development. Parpart. Macmillan 9 . Vol. Women. James Currey. Aldershot Stichter. Further reading Adepoju. 1994. London Anker. R. and Oppong. Employment and the Family in the International Division of Labour. C. Gower.’ World Development. Gender and Jobs: Sex Segregation of Occupations in the World. No.. 1970. 1997.domain. S. L. (eds. However. can reduce women’s responsibilities in the home.. E.. They should also be accompanied by consideration of how men. Gender.).. Basingstoke. ILO. 1990. and J. 1992. ‘Accounting for women’s work: progress of two decades. ILO.11 Boserup. Geneva Beneria. work & population in Sub-Saharan Africa.

moves beyond equality of opportunity by requiring transformative change. DAC Sourcebook on Concepts and Approaches linked to Gender See also: WID/GAD. casual work in informal and home based enterprises. it implies rethinking existing legislation on employment. the National Service for Women (SERNAM) developed an Equal Opportunities Plan for Chilean Women 1994-1999. It necessitates a rethinking of policies and programmes to take account of men’s and women’s different realities and interests.GENDER EQUALITY & EQUITY The term ‘gender equity’ is often used interchangeably with ‘gender equality’. and requiring a redistribution of power and resources. health services. reflecting divergent understandings of gender differences and of the appropriate strategies to address these. It recognises that women and men have different needs. Gender equity goals are seen as being more political than gender equality goals. It also does not recognise that women’s reality and experience may be different from men’s. and politics. not just the language. So. The goal of gender equity. For example. This focused on equitable participation in education. progress in women’s status is measured against a male norm. there is a level playing field. recognising their different needs and interests. 1998. Equal opportunities policies and legislation tackle the problem through measures to increase women’s participation in public life. Gender analysis. Development Assistance Committee (DAC). but lack of implementation and enforcement might limit its impact. sometimes called substantive equality. in Chile. An equity approach implies that all development policies and interventions need to be scrutinised for their impact on gender relations. the labour market. 1998. Here. does not necessarily demand or ensure equality of outcomes. It is worth examining the content of policies. and interests and that equality of outcomes may necessitate different treatment of men and women. Gender equality denotes women having the same opportunities in life as men. including the ability to participate in the public sphere. and are hence are generally less accepted in mainstream development agencies. before deciding whether an equity or an equality approach is being followed. preferences. ‘Evolution of the Thinking and Approaches on Equality Issues’ in DAC. for example. It assumes that once the barriers to participation are removed. as well as development programmes. In effect. However. this focus on what is sometimes called formal equality. Gender relations Further Reading 10 . to take account of women’s reproductive work and their concentration in unprotected. Judicial reform is another key tool in the fight for equality. Gender equity denotes the equivalence in life outcomes for women and men. a distinction is drawn between these two concepts. This expresses a liberal feminist idea that removing discrimination in opportunities for women allows them to achieve equal status to men.

Paris 11 . OECD.Equality.

In both cases. paper presented to the DFID Management Board. (See National Machineries for Women). The building of alliances both within the institution and with outside constituencies. BRIDGE. is crucial for success. 1997. Most major development organisations and many governments have now embraced ‘gender mainstreaming’ as a strategy for moving towards gender equality. combined with a web of gender specialists across the institution. 8 May Goetz. London Further reading 12 . Mainstreaming tools include gender training. focusing on adapting institutional procedures to achieve this. Beijing Platform for Action: ‘…governments and other actors should promote an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes’ (cited in DAC. This involves the synergy of a catalytic central gender unit with a cross-sectoral policy oversight and monitoring role. 1997. (ed). Zed Books. 1998:28) See also: National Machineries for Women. 1998. Gender planning Any approach to mainstreaming requires sufficient resources. the need was identified for broader institutional change if pervasive male advantage was to be challenged. In light of this. through building gender capacity and accountability The 1970s strategies of integrating women into development by establishing separate women’s units or programmes within state and development institutions had made slow progress by the mid1980s. introducing incentive structures which reward efforts on gender. ‘Institutionalising gender’. Development and gender in brief.GENDER MAINSTREAMING An organisational strategy to bring a gender perspective to all aspects of an institution’s policy and activities. BRIDGE. Issue 6.. political as well as technical skills are essential to a mainstreaming strategy. A combined strategy can be particularly powerful. The more politically acceptable integrationist approach brings women’s and gender concerns into all of the existing policies and programmes. Such a process of mainstreaming has been seen to take one of two forms. With a mainstreaming strategy. Responsibility for the implementation of gender policy is diffused across the organisational structure.specific activities at the margin was no longer seen as sufficient. for all sectors and areas of activity. ‘Putting gender mainsteaming into practice’. A. such as women’s organisations. Brighton DFID (Social Development Division). rather than concentrated in a small central unit. The agenda-setting approach to mainstreaming seeks to transform the development agenda itself whilst prioritising gender concerns. and the development of gender-specific operational tools such as checklists and guidelines. mimeo. Adding women. Getting Institutions Right for Women in Development. IDS. as well as high-level commitment and authority. and a fundamental part of the planning process. gender concerns are seen as important to all aspects of development.

. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank. SIDA. and Miller.4. Mainstreaming: a Strategy for Achieving Equality between Women and Men’. Tornqvist. B.Moser.. and van Bronkhorst. 1995. B. UNRISD. Razavi... the World Bank and the ILO to institutionalize gender issues’. and Woroniuk. 1996.C. S. Geneva Schalkwyk. Washington. ‘Gender mainstreaming: a study of efforts by the UNDP.. C. No. 1998. C. Occasional Papers.. J.. A. Thomas. Mainstreaming Gender and Development in the World Bank: Progress and Recommendations. D. H.. Stockholm 13 .

This politicisation of practical gender needs is a favoured entry point for NGOs and women’s organisations. These needs are often seen as feminist in nature as they seek to change women’s status and position in society in relation to men. At any time. they are more likely to be resisted than PGNs. of a political or practical nature. Needs. the state and revolution in Nicaragua’. such as health care and food provision. in practice. Vol. women may achieve more strategic and transformatory goals.. such as those of class and race. 1989). they are closely related in the planning process. In reality. See also: Gender analysis Gender planning Women’s empowerment Further reading Molyneux. access to safe water and sanitation. it is difficult to distinguish so clearly between strategic and practical needs. 1985. These needs may relate to inequalities in the gender division of labour. As such. defined by women themselves. This identifies the way in which women’s gender interests. in ownership and control of resources. related to their experience as a gendered person. No. result from a political process of contestation and interpretation and thus should not be externally defined or seen as fixed. as well as interests. Feminist Studies. so assumptions cannot be made of women’s solidarity. Through collective organising around practical gender needs. Strategic gender needs (SGNs). in participation in decision-making.GENDER NEEDS Shared and prioritised needs identified by women that arise from their common experiences as a gender Certain women’s interests. Although needs and interests are conceptually different (Molyneux. can be satisfied in the planning process. even though these needs may be a direct result of women’s subordinate position in society.2 14 . women may not always recognise or prioritise their strategic gender needs. Any policy or programme may meet both sets of needs. Such prioritised concerns have been translated into the concept of gender needs (Moser. ‘Mobilisation without emancipation? Women’s interests. PGNs do not directly challenge gender inequalities.11. but also seek to ensure access to income-earning opportunities. Policies to meet PGNs tend to focus on ensuring that women and their families have adequate living conditions. gender interests may not be prioritised over women’s other interests which cut across these. particularly if it could threaten their immediate practical needs. are those needs identified by women that require strategies for challenging male dominance and privilege. Practical Gender Needs (PGNs) according to Moser (1989) are the immediate needs identified by women to assist their survival in their socially accepted roles. M. within existing power structures. However. 1998). or to experiences of domestic and other sexual violence.

. M.17. Feminist Visions of Development: Gender Analysis and Policy. 1998. in Jackson. World Development. ‘Analysing women’s movements’. 1989. ‘ Gender planning in the third world: meeting practical and strategic needs’. pp1799-1825 15 .Molyneux. 1998. C.. and Pearson. R. Routledge. No.11. Vol... London Moser. C.

(Kabeer and Subrahmanian. For example. If gender policy has transformatory goals. Gender planning procedures need to involve the participation of stakeholders and clear lines of accountability. Gender training. Gender analysis. ‘Project planning and implementation from a gender-based perspective can have only one ultimate goal…contribute to changing the balance of the sexual division of power and resources so as to make it more equitable’ (Macdonald. i. a variety of planning tools are used to operationalise gender policy. effects. WID/GAD 16 . then gender planning as a process will necessarily be a political one. each with its own planning principles and tools. means and ends. Whilst gender transformatory policies are increasingly being generated. and identification of an entry strategy.GENDER PLANNING The technical and political processes and procedures necessary to implement gender-sensitive policy and practice The purpose of gender planning is to ensure gender-sensitive policy outcomes through a systematic and inclusive process. and to operationalise this through recognised procedures. formulation of gender objectives. Caroline Moser (1993) developed a gender planning framework consisting of gender planning tools. identifies the need to institutionalise gender planning. gender planning procedures. Building capacity amongst planners is necessary to ensure policy is transformed into practice with the minimum of dilution. A seven-point ‘Gender audit for development interventions’ supports this framework. The gender planning tools include gender roles identification. a tendency to slip in implementation from transformatory objectives to outcomes that fail to challenge existing gender relations. from within both implementing organisations and targeted communities. and the components of gender planning practice. It recognises that the means through which needs are met is as important as the planned ends of any intervention. Logical Framework Analysis is an See also: Gender mainstreaming. backed up by sufficient resources. At the project level. The gender planning procedures involve the diagnosis of the gender problem. involving consultation with and participation of different stakeholders. The planning process is conceived as participatory and constituted by an analysis and evaluation of causes. procedures for monitoring and evaluation. It has been recognised that GAD approaches are constrained by resistance and subversion. gender needs assessment. 1996). including general and sector-specific checklists and guidelines. and the collection of disaggregated data at the household level. practice. gender-based consultation and participation. The final aspect. commitment and authority. concerns are focusing on the ‘misbehaviour’ of such policies. This approach uses an institutional framework for the analysis of gender inequalities as a tool for gender-aware planning. 1994:45) There is a variety of gender planning frameworks based on differing approaches to gender analysis. The social relations approach differs in its focus on power in gender relations (See Gender Analysis).e. Gender planning needs therefore to be part of an on-going process of gender mainstreaming.

C. London 17 . IDS... participation of various stakeholders. 1996. Oxford Moser. Further reading Kabeer. and that relevant monitoring and evaluation procedures are implemented.example of a planning tool which. ‘Insititutions. if used in a gender-sensitive manner. 1993. Gender Planning in Development Agencies: Meeting the Challenge.357. (ed. 1994. M.). can help to ensure accountability. relations and outcomes: framework and tools for gender-aware planning’. R.. IDS Discussion Paper. Gender Planning and Development: Theory. No. N. Brighton Macdonald.. Practice and Training. Oxfam. and Subrahmanian. Routledge.

So. such as the family. legal systems or the market. change is possible: in a few recent cases. where they are perceived to transgress their accepted roles. If women’s gender identities are to be changed. or their participation circumscribed. However. and gendered ideologies. and to the imbalances of power embedded in male-female relations. following sustained campaigns. Where women retaliate. women can be physically or sexually abused by male partners with relative impunity.GENDER RELATIONS Hierarchical relations of power between women and men that tend to disadvantage women These gender hierarchies are often accepted as ‘natural’ but are socially determined relations. In many cultures. ‘If gender is about relations between men and women. WID/GAD 18 . such as ideas of acceptable behaviour for women and men. women may be reluctant to seek redress because the male dominated judicial system is unsympathetic. Gender relations constitute and are constituted by a range of institutions.’ (White in Macdonald. 1993:20) See also: Gender equity. But whether gender relations act to alleviate. Hierarchical gender relations constrain development efforts. caste. or because they fear ostracism. or to exacerbate other social inequalities. then men’s must change also. ethnicity and race. they often have less bargaining power to affect change who institutions operate. They give more prominence to the connectedness of men’s and women’s lives. Even where. they become criminalised themselves. depends on the context. such as the division of labour and resources. beatings or rape in marriage are considered acceptable in the existing legal framework. rigidities in the gender division of labour limit the effective mobilisation of women’s labour to support export production. culturally based. Analyses which focus on gender relations differ in emphasis from those which take ‘gender roles’ as a starting point. For example. Gender analysis. then the male side of the eqution must also be figured in. Development strategies need to be informed by an analysis of gender relations and to support women’s own attempts to change the rules and practices which reinforce these gender hierarchies. and are subject to change over time. women have been acquitted of ‘crimes’ against violent partners and new laws have been passed to respond to such attenuating circumstances. Since historically women have been excluded from many institutional spheres. Poverty reduction efforts are hampered where men use their authority to usurp control over resources targeted at women. rape or violence within marriage is outlawed. following lobbying of women’s groups. Sex and gender. They are a resource which is drawn on daily to reinforce or redefine the rules. for example. norms and practices which govern social institutions. They also emphasise the interaction of gender relations with other hierarchical social relations such as class. They can be seen in a range of gendered practices.

(eds... K. R.. Occasional Paper. Geneva Pearson. A. and Miller. C. Of Marriage and the Market. Wolkovitz. R. 1984.. Routledge and Kegan Paul.. C.). 1995. Feminist Visions of Development: Gender Analysis and Policy.’ in Young. ‘Introduction: the continuing subordination of women in the development process. in Jackson. ‘From WID to GAD: Conceptual Shifts in the Women and Development Discourse’. and McCullagh. UNRISD. S. 1984. ‘Introduction: interrogating development. 1998. R. gender and policy’. London 19 ... C. and C... Routledge. R..Further reading Pearson. Jackson. 1998. Whitehead. and Young. and Pearson. London Razavi. Feminism. K...

a strategy. Personal transformation tends to be a training objective for Southern NGOs/women’s organisations rather than development co-operation agencies. KIT Press/Oxfam Publishing. The trainer’s. ‘Gender training…is a tool. and to more skills-based training. Experience suggests that training is most effective when it is part of a broader strategy of organisational change. Verso.6. Gender training typically involves: group discussion and reflection on gender roles and relations. Its objectives can include raising general awareness of the relevance of gender to an organisation’s work and skills transfer in gender analysis. Gender Planning and Development: Theory. a site of debate and possibly for struggle. programme design and implementation. ‘Triple Roles. UNDP.. Practice and Training. Gender Training: The Source Book. Gender training was initially mainly focused at the project level.. and hence the framework used (See Gender Analysis). as well as role plays and simulation games which highlight gender dynamics. 1993. approach to gender and development influence the training approach. London Royal Tropical Institute (KIT). C. or focus primarily on changing organisational procedures and practices. 1998. so the emphasis of gender training shifts to more tailored courses to meet specific needs and demands.. These vary in the degree to which they see the need for personal attitudinal and behavioural change. 1994. a space for reflection. N. and the ‘further reading’ below. as well as the organisation’s. London Miller. Attention has recently focused on the need to evaluate the impact of gender training. but more recently emphasis has shifted to sectoral and macro-economic policy-making. ‘Training strategies for gender planning: from sensitising to skills and techniques’. 1994:31) See also: Gender analysis. C. New York Moser.. Training is a transformative process’ (Macdonald. case studies of the impact of development policies and programmes on gender relations. Gender Roles. Oxford 20 . C. in Reversed Realities: Gender Hierarchies in Development Thought.GENDER TRAINING A facilitated process of developing awareness and capacity on gender issues to bring about personal or organisational change for gender equality Gender training is one of a range of institutional strategies used to integrate gender into the work of development co-operation agencies. S. As awareness grows within an organisation. 1993. in Moser. Gender mainstreaming. Social Relations: The political subtext of gender training frameworks’. Gender planning Further reading Kabeer. gender-aware planning. Routledge. and Razavi.. 1998 ‘Gender analysis: alternative paradigms’ Gender in Development monograph Series No.

and Mwan.. J. Oxford 21 . Institute of Development Studies. A.. Brighton Williams.Wach. ‘Southern gender training materials: an overview and resource guide’. The Oxfam Gender Training Manual. Oxfam. BRIDGE Report. H. 1999. with Seed.... and Reeves. S. H. 1994.

Even where countries have issued appropriate legislation. however. “Women should wear purdah [head-to-toe covering] to ensure that innocent men … are not unconsciously forced into becoming rapists’ Parliamentarian of the ruling Barisan National in Malaysia (cited in Heise et al 1994:iii) Percentage of women surveyed reporting physical assaults by intimate partner: Japan:59% Zambia: 40% Colombia: 20% Tanzania: 60% (UN. are all necessary. with women particularly at risk from men they know. provision of shelters. The prevention and elimination of violence against women is hampered by pervasive attitudes that devalue women’s lives and by institutional resistance. wifebattering. Social justice. training of the police and lawyers. Policy concerns should not only focus on programmes specifically targeted at violence against women. Violence against women. and nonspousal violence within the home. legislation alone is insufficient to address this problem.GENDER VIOLENCE Any act or threat by men or male-dominated institutions. Additional support activities are required. Other definitions extend to marital rape. and the building of capacity for women to combat violence and pursue their rights. 1995:160) See also: Gender discrimination. certain definitions include ‘sexual exploitation’ such as enforced prostitution. Official figures are scarce. trafficking of women and girls. There is. It is now recognised in international law that violence against women is a human rights issue with major health and economic implications. to recognising the extent of the problem. sexual harassment. such as microenterprise schemes. The United Nations (UN) recently appointed a Special Rapporteur on violence against women. female infanticide. dowry-related violence. sexual abuse of girls. especially when the violence involves another family member. the acts or threats of such included in the definition are rape. and under reporting is rife. across all social classes. There is hostility to interfering with ‘private’ domestic disputes. It happens in virtually all societies. In addition. Commonly. or psychological harm on a woman or girl because of their gender Gender violence occurs in both the ‘public’ and ‘private’ spheres. Development interventions themselves could make women more vulnerable to violence if men feel threatened by attempts to enhance women’s status. sexual. and sex-selective abortion. Development policy must understand both the obstacles gender violence places in the way of effective development. including from the judicial system and the police. that inflicts physical. acts such as female genital mutilation. and pornography. but on violence as an aspect of other programmes. has frequently been used as a weapon of war against particular ethnic groups or entire populations. The rape of women in wartime has been recognised and explicitly prohibited since 1949 in article 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Civilian Persons in Times of War. no single definition of gender violence accepted internationally and there is much debate over the breadth of inclusion. its implementation and enforcement may well be weak. Legislative reform. Women’s human rights 22 . However. and particularly systematic rape. and the debilitating impact it has on women’s lives.

November. Oxfam. ‘Violence against women’.. Center for Women’s Global Leadership Davies. The British Council. London Bunch. Gender Violence: A Development and Human Rights Issue. 1998. ‘Violence Against Women: The hidden health burden. ‘Violence against Women: A briefing document on international issues and responses’. Oxford 23 . Gender and Development Journal. R... Oxfam. (ed). J.’ World Bank Discussion Paper.Further reading The British Council. L.3. M. The World Bank. 1994. Zed Books.. 1994.255. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. London Heise. Volume 6. Women and Violence: Realities and Responses Worldwide. C. and Carrillo. with Pitanguy. Washington D. 1999. A.. no. No. and Germain..C.

1998:103) See also: Gender relations. however. Consequently. and membership of collective organisations. or which come into the household are controlled and accessed by its different members Gender analysis has revealed some evidence of bias against female members of households in the allocation of resources such as income. The household has often been used as the basic unit of analysis in. are distributed differently to resources controlled by men. poverty measures. Conventional micro-economists typically sees the household as a consumption unit and treat it as a ‘black-box’. In this model. There is some evidence that women spend a higher percentage of their generally smaller incomes on family consumption and children’s welfare.INTRAHOUSEHOLD RESOURCE DISTRIBUTION The dynamics of how different resources that are generated within. Other mechanisms for enhancing women’s bargaining power in the home include strengthened property rights. Women’s human rights 24 . It was the New Household Economics (pioneered by Gary Becker in the 1960s) that challenged the conventional microeconomic approach and highlighted the importance of production within the household. Certain theorists suggest that women’s bargaining position within the household is enhanced when they work outside the home. whereas in South Asia this pattern has been widely noted. These patterns are not universal. food. there is little evidence of nutritional bias against girl children in SubSaharan Africa. health care and education. Gender discrimination. Gender relations within the household are then seen as characterised by both conflict and co-operation. household income-based measures of poverty do not correlate neatly with gender-differentiated assessments of well-being. for example in female-headed households. gender analysts. for example. poverty reduction strategies that target male household heads. The division of labour and dynamics within the household are seen also to influence opportunities and outcomes for women outside the home. all resources are pooled and distributed in an altruistic manner by a benevolent male household head to maximise the welfare of household members. whereby women tend to have less bargaining power in the struggle over household resources (for example. But because of inequalities in intrahousehold distribution. It has also been shown that resources controlled by women. and birth order. in employment for example. and are also mediated by other factors such as age. Feminist models highlighted the fact that resources are not always pooled and stressed the role of bargaining processes within the household in determining access to resources. nutrition. Conventional macro-economics treats the activities performed within the household as non-economic and hence irrelevant. have demonstrated that this characterisation of the household is naïve and ignores gender power imbalances and conflict within the household. particularly feminist anthropologists and economists. For example. Sen). assuming genderneutrality. erroneously assume ‘The consensus appears to be shifting to the view that intrahousehold relations are indeed characterised by power’ (Kabeer. However.

Feminist Visions of Development: Gender Analysis and Policy. 1990.7. it cannot either be assumed that women will retain control of those resources they bring into the household. L. This suggests the need for improved data collection and analysis procedures that collect more data at individual level. I. 1997. No. 1998. Intrahousehold Resource Allocation in Developing Countries: Models. and Hoddonott. pp979-991. J. Where women are targeted with income-generating opportunities. London 25 .. London Sen. John Hopkins University Press. Pergamon Press Evans. N. in Jackson.. Vol. R. 1990.17. C. (ed. Brighton Kabeer.that benefits will ‘trickle-down’ to the rest of the household. Routledge. Persistent Inequalities. incorporate consideration of intrahousehold dynamics and recognise the heterogeneity of household arrangements. Oxford University Press.. and Pearson.22. New York Haddad. 1989. 1998. ‘Jumping to conclusions: struggles over meaning and method in the study of household economics’. Vol. Methods and Policy.1. International Food Policy Research Institute. ‘Gender issues in rural household economics’...).. IDS Bulletin.. J.. Further reading Bruce. 1991. A. ‘Homes Divided’. World Development. A. ‘Gender and co-operative conflicts’ in Tinker. No. Institute of Development Studies.

1997:2) However. and Marcus. National machineries set up during democratic transitions (e. Philippines. ‘National machineries for women in development: experiences. See also: Gender mainstreaming. The fact that many national machineries were established during periods of fiscal restraint and government restructuring has made claims on resources difficult to advance. desks. NMWs have made many positive achievements. Uganda) have been more influential and effective. ‘Linking NGOs and women’s organisations with policy-makers in government is a key role for NMWs in the context of mainstreaming’ (Oxaal.. J. vulnerable to changing political fortunes.whether offices. or ministries – were central to the integration strategies of the 1970s (see WID/GAD). They expanded in numbers in the 1980s and 1990s. lessons and strategies for institutionalising gender in development policy and planning’. and often ghettoised within social and welfare departments. Brighton 26 . and building strategic alliances with NGOs and other women’s organisations. Some lessons have been learned. B. lack of qualified and technically skilled staff. Strategies include: lobbying for gender in national development plans. There are many constraints remaining on their effectiveness. at least in part because of a political commitment to greater social equality and justice.. Positive experiences also highlight the importance of broad and open processes of consultation. Institute of Development Studies.. S. and Koch-Laier. lack of political autonomy. bureaucratic resistance. most importantly legitmising the place of gender issues in development planning (Goetz. and face many challenges in their ability to fulfil a catalytic role and build capacity in other ministries as well as their own. underfunding and overreliance on donor funding. under-resourced. and often lack of political support from national political leadership. NMWs have often proven weak. Chile. gender training at all levels. setting up of focal points in other ministries. inappropriate location. South Africa. The 1990s have seen a shift towards new strategies for NMWs of institutionalising or ‘mainstreaming’ gender through advocacy and policy oversight work across all sectors. No. These include: lack of strong and clear mandates. NMWs have therefore had varying degrees of success. BRIDGE Report. now being a feature of most governments. 1996. R. 1998). for example in the development of national gender policies..NATIONAL MACHINERIES FOR WOMEN Agencies with a mandate for the advancement of women established within and by governments for integrating gender concerns in development policy and planning National Machineries for Women (NMWs) . ministries and departments. guidelines and checklists to assist planning and evaluation.g. Gender planning Further reading Byrne. with Baden.36.

1995. (eds. in Miller. IT Publications... 1998. Brighton Rowan-Campbell... Z. OECD.). A Commitment to the World’s Women: Perspectives on Development for Beijing and Beyond. 1997. 1998.. 1998. UNIFEM. N. Paris Goetz. Issue 5. and Razavi. ‘National Machinery for Women’s Affairs’ in DAC Source Book on Concepts and Approaches Linked to Gender Equality. ‘National Machineries for women: a balancing act’.Development Assistance Committee (DAC). ‘Bringing gender out of the ghetto: national machineries for women’. Missionaries and Mandarins. D. in Heyzer. Development and Gender In Brief. C. London Oxaal. ‘Mainstreaming gender equity to national development planning’. New York 27 .. AM. S. Institute of Development.

London. power and contestation: rethinking bargaining with patriarchy’.11. 1998. 1986.). women are seen as having room for manoeuvre within a constraining patriarchal system by negotiating a ‘patriarchal bargain’ with men. and Pearson. This entails a trade-off between women’s autonomy. 1998. social and economic power over women. culture. R. 1995. and men’s responsibility for their wives and children. 1995). In some views. and violence. Routledge. DAWN. exclusion. sexuality. However. sometimes seen as underpinning patriarchy (Mies. The main ‘sites’ of patriarchal oppression have been identified as housework.. (eds. and unequal pay. pp2001-04 Kandiyoti. ethnicity and race. the state. Behaviours that discriminate against women because of their gender are seen as patriarchal ‘practices’. Some feminists use the concept of patriarchy to explain the systematic subordination of women by both overarching and localised structures. ‘Gender. More recent thinking has therefore rejected such a universal concept. A more nuanced analysis is needed that takes into account difference and complexity. in Jackson.. in order to challenge not only unequal gender relations but also unequal capitalist relations. Gender inequalities are crosscut by other social inequalities such as class. These structures work to the benefit of men by constraining women’s life choices and chances. Gender discrimination. It tends to assume that gender oppression is uniform across time and space. Feminist Visions of Development: Gender Analysis and Policy. D. No. A rigid and universal concept of patriarchy denies women space for resistance and strategies for change. ‘Rethinking social development: DAWN’s vision (Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era)’. interwoven with processes of capitalist exploitation. identifying the need for detailed historical and cultural analysis to understand gender-based oppression. It will be a long. The concept of patriarchy has been drawn into gender and development theorising. Neither are women a homogeneous group constrained in identical ways. and the agency of women.ol. which could be prioritised over gender concerns in certain contexts.23. Gender violence. Culture Further reading 28 . An overarching theory of male power may help to conceptualise the extent of gender inequality but fails to deal with its complexity.. Feminists who explain gender inequality in terms of patriarchy often reject male-biased societal structures and practices and propose greater female autonomy or even separatism as a strategy. for example occupational segregation. World Development. paid work.PATRIARCHY Systemic societal structures that institutionalise male physical. the roots of patriarchy are often located in women’s reproductive role and sexual violence. Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN). See also: WID/GAD. ‘In attacking both patriarchy and capitalism we will have to find ways to change both societywide institutions and our most deeply ingrained habits. caste. hard struggle’ (Hartmann 1976:169) There are many differing interpretations of patriarchy. C.

. S. London Walby. Blackwell.Mies. 29 . Zed Books. Theorizing Patriarchy. Oxford. Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour. M. 1990.. 1986.

rather than sex. Use of the term gender. However these biological differences cannot explain why women have less access to power and lower status than men. rather than as a biological given.. 1992.. WID/GAD Further reading Baden. 1998. Routledge. Edinburgh. Gender identities and associated expectations of roles and responsibilities are therefore changeable between and within cultures.. L. ‘Sex’: a person’s sex is biologically determined as female or male according to certain identifiable physical features which are fixed. Routledge. ‘Gender’ and the hierarchical power relations between women and men based on this are socially constructed. L.. (eds. its use can generate considerable opposition.. ‘Who needs [sex] when you can have [gender]: Conflicting discourses on Gender at Beijing’. For this reason. and Pearson.SEX & GENDER ‘Sex’ refers to the biological characteristics that categorise someone as either female or male.. particularly from conservative religious and cultural groups but also in mainstream development institutions. in Jackson.1992. paper for JFS Workshop. and unequal power hierarchies. Feminist Visions of Development: Gender Analysis and Policy. Gender relations. It also recognises gender inequality as the outcome of social processes. The value of the distinction between the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ has been challenged more recently as ‘sex’ has also been seen to be socially constructed (Baden and Goetz. July 5-7 30 . whereas ‘gender’ refers to the socially determined ideas and practices of what it is to be female or male Whilst often used interchangeably. 1998).. roles and relations. in Østergaard. which can be challenged. mimeo. ‘Gender and development: a review of key issues’. 1993. ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are in fact distinct terms. C.) 1998. Gendered power relations permeate social institutions so that gender is never absent. and Goetz. Gender and Development: A Practical Guide. S. ‘Gender’. London White. S. ‘Gender’: how a person’s biology is culturally valued and interpreted into locally accepted ideas of what it is to be a woman or man. R. A. signals an awareness of the cultural and geographic specificity of gender identities. See also: Gender analysis. Women’s marginalisation has often been seen as ‘natural’ and a fact of their biology. To understand and challenge the cultural value placed on someone’s biological sex. (ed). London Østergaard. we need the relational concept of ‘gender’. and not derived directly from biology.

based on the work of Amartya Sen. pp5-11. do see poverty as an issue of injustice and focus on organising and building capacity for the assertion of rights by the marginalised. In development thinking a ‘capability’ perspective of justice is common. A. ‘The search for social justice’. however. faced by women. Social movements such as the women’s. More radical perspectives.40. or economic and social policies. as well as wider social injustices. The women’s movement has been working to ensure that efforts to address injustice. are informed by an understanding of gender inequalities. This requires both aggregative and redistributive considerations. Other thinking.. through human rights measures. Strategies towards social justice have often overlooked the specific gender injustice or discrimination. and human rights movements. Vol. in order to mobilise people for change.. Mainstream poverty debates have tended to focus on meeting the basic needs of poor people and maximising their opportunities. Oxfam. Gender and Development. worker’s. focuses on more ‘efficiency’ ideas of maximising overall utility or welfare. Oxford Harcourt. The Society for International Development. have fought against perceived social injustices from a variety of entry points. 1995.3. such that no-one can be made better off without someone else being worse off. Such movements have also challenged the ideologies and prejudices that legitimate social inequalities. based on Rawls’ ideas. ‘From basic needs to basic rights’. Vol. derived from welfare economics. 1997. There are varying conceptions of ‘justice’. as for example in the DFID White Paper.SOCIAL JUSTICE Fairness and equity as a right for all in the outcomes of development. The idea of poverty as an issue of rights is growing in influence in the development discourse. No. London 31 . often adopted by NGOs. W. i.e. See also: Gender discrimination. translates this into the idea of ‘justice as fairness’ with its equity overtones and need for redistributive strategies. This requires strategies to redress past injustices.the idea that inequalities of distribution must be justified by an impartial and rational assessment of ‘relevant’ differences between the people involved. Women’s human rights Further reading Facio. SAGE Publications. violation of rights or persistent economic and social inequalities. through processes of social transformation The idea of ‘social justice’ as the outcome of struggles against social inequalities implies change towards a more ‘fair’ society. One key theory of justice.2. Common to them all is a formal idea of justice . the idea that people should have the capabilities to survive and function and the freedom to pursue well-being. development. rather than seeing poverty as an issue of social inequality or injustice.

1997. Women.2. justice and human development’. 1997. 1995. Culture and Development: A Study of Human Capabilities. in Nussbaum.. London 32 .. Vol.40. SAGE Publications. Journal of International Development.. justice and equity: a gender perspective’..9. G. J. The Society for International Development. A.. Clarendon Press.2 Sen. No. M. Oxford Sen. D. ‘Globalization. pp21-26. Development. and Glover. No.Gasper. ‘The capabilities approach to well-being. Vol. ‘Gender inequality and theories of justice’.

the GAD (or Gender and Development) approach to development policy and practice focuses on the socially constructed basis of differences between men and women and emphasises the need to challenge existing gender roles and relations GAD emerged from a frustration with the lack of progress of WID policy. In contrast. and limited access to and control over resources. although their reproductive role was downplayed. some of which focus primarily on the gender division of labour and gender roles focus on gender as a relation of power embedded in institutions (see Gender Analysis). Gender planning. in practice it is less clear. for example. Although WID and GAD perspectives are theoretically distinct. There are different interpretations of GAD. Women’s ‘problem’ was therefore diagnosed as insufficient participation in a benign development process. Women’s subordination was seen in terms of their exclusion from the market sphere. creating employment and income-generating opportunities. GAD challenged the WID focus on women in isolation. It marked an important corrective. There is often a slippage between GAD policy rhetoric and a WID reality where ‘gender’ is mistakenly interpreted as ‘women’. 1996:17) See also: Gender analysis. by challenging existing divisions of labour or power relations (see Gender Division of Labour. seeing women’s ‘real’ problem as the imbalance of power between women and men. in practice. with a programme possibly involving elements of both. It was a reaction to women being seen as passive beneficiaries of development. and emphasises the need to integrate them into the development process The WID perspective evolved in the early 1970s from a ‘liberal’ feminist framework and was particularly influential in North America. improving access to credit and to education. Programmes informed by a WID approach addressed women’s practical needs by.WID/GAD The WID (or Women in Development) approach calls for greater attention to women in development policy and practice. in changing women’s lives and in influencing the broader development agenda. through an oversight on behalf of policymakers. Whilst many development agencies are now committed to a gender approach. the primary institutional perspective remains as WID and associated ‘antipoverty’ and ‘efficiency’ policies. ‘Gender relations do not operate in a social vacuum but are products of the ways in which institutions are organized and reconstituted’ (Kabeer. GAD approaches generally aim to meet both women’s practical gender needs and more strategic gender needs (see Gender Needs). Women’s significant productive contribution was made visible. Gender Relations). Sex and gender 33 . highlighting the fact that women need to be integrated into development processes as active agents if efficient and effective development is to be achieved.

357.. Institute of Development Studies. IDS Discussion Paper. in Young.. Gender Planning and Development: Theory. and Razavi. and Subrahmanian. Brighton Miller.. relations and outcomes: framework and tools for gender-aware planning’. London Young. ‘Framework for analysis’. R. C. 1993. Occasional Paper. ‘From WID to GAD: conceptual shifts in the Women and Development discourse’. K. 1996. S.. Planning and Development with Women. N. Geneva Moser. London 34 .. K.. 1995. 1993.. Macmillan Press. Routledge. ‘Institutions. UNRISD. 1993.Further reading Kabeer. No. C. Practice and Training.

However. and the ‘power to’ effect change and take decisions. A facilitative rather than directive role is needed. Recently. nor can empowerment be defined in terms of specific activities or end results. freely analyse. Thus. 1998: 10) A ‘bottom-up’ process of transforming gender power relations. appropriate external support can be important to foster and support the process of empowerment. development and peace (paragraph 13).’ or self confidence. Empowerment is sometimes described as being about the ability to make choices. through individuals or groups developing awareness of women’s subordination and building their capacity to challenge it. individually and collectively. This means that development agencies cannot claim to 'empower women'. Planners working towards an empowerment approach must therefore develop ways of enabling women themselves to critically assess their own situation and shape a transformation in society. Power may be understood as ‘power within. caution must be exercised in assuming that empowerment can be externally defined and objectively assessed. or used in simplistic ways. but rather the need to transform the nature of power relations. ‘power with’. or that such indicators can be easily transferred. Whilst empowerment cannot be ‘done to’ women. A number of ‘indicators of empowerment’ have been developed in different contexts. but it must also involve being able to shape what choices are on offer. particularly in relation to microcredit programmes. The term ‘empowerment’ is now widely used in development agency policy and programme documents.’ (cited in DAC.WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT Beijing Declaration: ‘Women’s empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all sphere of society. The ultimate goal of women’s empowerment is for women themselves to be the active agents of change in transforming gender relations. or imposed from above. including participation in the decision-making process and access to power. develop and voice their needs and interests. rather than ‘power over’ others. Women’s empowerment does not imply women taking over control previously held by men. Gender needs. such as funding women’s organisations that work locally to address the causes of gender subordination and promoting dialogue between such organisations and those in positions of power. Empowerment is essentially a bottom-up process rather than something that can be formulated as a top-down strategy. but also specifically in relation to women. without them being pre-defined. What is seen as empowering in one context may not be in another. WID/GAD See also: FAQ ‘How can we measure empowerment?’ 35 . particularly where it becomes associated with specific activities. See also: Gender analysis. Central to the concept of women’s empowerment is an understanding of power itself. the concept is highly political. This is because it involves a process whereby women. there are dangers in the uncritical overuse of the term in agency rhetoric. and its meaning contested. interest has grown among development professionals in approaches to measuring women’s empowerment. Again. or the capacity to organise with others towards a common purpose. in general. are fundamental for the achievement of equality. Gender training.

Development and Change... 1994. 1992. in Anderson. Development and Social Diversity.. (eds. Open University Press. T. 1998. Oxfam. 1997. ‘Women’s empowerment and public action: experiences from Latin America’ in Wuyts.4 36 . M.. S. OECD. Mackintosh... H. (ed). 1996.25.Further reading Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Paris Rowlands. No. Z. 40. Gender and empowerment: definitions.). ‘Empowerment’ in DAC Source Book on Concepts and Approaches Linked to Gender Equality. and Hewitt.. ‘Empowerment examined’. J. No. approaches and implications for policy’.. Brighton Johnson. Milton Keynes Wieringa. ‘Women’s interests and empowerment: gender planning reconsidered’. M. BRIDGE Report. Institute of Development Studies. Vol. M. Oxford Oxaal. 1992.

isn’t legislation the answer?’ and ‘What right have we to interfere with other people’s cultures?’ 37 . Gender violence. women’s groups mobilised around the slogan of “Women’s rights are human rights!” which signifies the indivisibility of women’s rights from universal human rights. This requires strategies of capacity-building in terms of literacy. Furthermore. is also crucial. hence conceiving rights to be relevant to the ‘public’ rather than the ‘private’ sphere. but failed to take into account women’s needs and interests as women. Gender-based violence has been a high profile issue in advocacy efforts on women’s human rights. Groups have campaigned for the recognition as human rights of. including those promoting women’s rights. in addition to strengthening women’s participation in these fields. 1998:20) See also: Culture. ‘Despite these meticulously worded international treaties. Its focus was on formal political and civil rights. violations of women’s bodily integrity. Even when international and national laws recognise women’s human rights. Gender-awareness training for the judiciary and the police. discrimination against women persists on every level in every corner of the world' (IWTC. economic. human rights advocates. Gender discrimination. for example. Mobilisation of women to claim their rights is essential in order to press for reforms. and for the implementation and enforcement of human rights and national legal instruments. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) laid out the idea of the universality of rights. The 1993 Vienna Conference on Human Rights was a watershed as it marked the first international recognition of violence against women as a human rights violation. attempting to broaden the conception of rights to include social. and political participation. the right of women to freedom from rape. and some that have ratified it have failed to uphold it. The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) established in 1979 marked an important step towards explicit prohibition of discrimination against women.WOMEN’S HUMAN RIGHTS Percentage of countries that have ratified the Women’s Convention (CEDAW) worldwide: • 60 percent without reservations • 29 percent with reservations • 11 percent not ratified (IWTC. from sexual assault as refugees and displaced women. Social justice. and particularly domestic violence. face challenges from those who regard human rights discourse as a western. legal knowledge. Many countries have failed to ratify CEDAW. As such. See also: FAQ ‘As gender is a human rights issue. 1998:126) The recognition that women’s rights are human rights and that women experience injustices solely because of their gender. Participants in the UN Beijing Women’s Conference (1995) continued with this call. they may be undermined by patriarchal customary laws or social practices. There is now a UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women with the specific remit to gather facts and report to the UN. as well as reproductive and sexual rights put on the agenda at the 1994 Cairo population conference. Whilst there has been progress in the recognition of women’s human rights in international human rights instruments this has not been matched by progress in the implementation and enforcement of these rights by state bodies. imperialist imposition on other cultures. and cultural rights. which occurred in the private sphere were not part of the human rights discourse. from abuse in custody. During preparations for the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna (1993).

and Baden. Z. Brighton 38 . New York Oxaal. IDS. S. Vol. International Women’s Tribune Centre. ‘Human Rights and poverty: a gender analysis’ BRIDGE Report.Further reading Brems. Human Rights Quarterly.19 pp136-164 International Women’s Tribune Centre (IWTC).. 1997.. E.. 1996. 1998. Rights of Women: A Guide to the Most Important United Nations Treaties on Women’s Human Rights. ‘Enemies or allies? Feminism and cultural relativism as dissident voices in human rights discourses’.